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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Apr 9, 2013 8:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What the fuck you want, Tell?

Lots of good points -- one thing that strikes me is that since "it started with the acid tests," to say the SHOW and "showman" might be accurate but also not quite the perfect words, and those of us who didn't see him might misinterpret it a bit. It can give the impression of a pre-packaged feeling, like Madonna or Michael Jackson or Gaga or something, which is the opposite of the Dead vibe. (I'm sure there were hundreds of equivalents in the 60s of people who aimed to have SHOWs.)

But from what I can tell from what you've said (and others who saw him), he was a "showman" not in a packaged sense but in an "experience" sense. I'm guessing the feeling was a bit edgy and anything-can-happen and raunchy fun, bringing the barroom onto the stage. He was a raw, upfront character who'd suddenly come to the fore and carry the whole place on a wild roll that was very different than the psychedelic weirdness.

Clearly a lot of those who saw him never forgot it.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 9, 2013 9:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What the fuck you want, Tell?

A lot of people who saw the Dead in the '60s asserted that Pigpen was the true star of the show. I think that element of showmanship is part of it - the rest of the band could jam all night, & maybe some of that would fly over people's heads, but then Pigpen would come up & strut & engage the audience on a more primal level.
It's more than evident to me that the true vibe of Pigpen only came from seeing him; just hearing him on tape, we're getting only part of the package. What's on tape doesn't entirely explain those ecstatic Fillmore audiences clapping along & cheering him.

But the other thing is the music - we're talking about Pigpen the singer, but really all he had to do was deliver some competent vocals & then step out of the way. Without Midnight Hour, Lovelight, Same Thing, or Caution, let alone many of the blues covers like Smokestack or Schoolgirl, the early Dead would have been a much narrower outfit - not to mention pieces they expanded in '70-71 like Good Lovin', Hard to Handle or Easy Wind. A lot of great Dead music wouldn't have been played without him, which I think is a more important testament than how well he could sing or copy the classic blues vocals.

To digress a bit, Ghostofpig favors the 4/14/72 Good Lovin', and Europe '72 has some great examples but my own favorite is 4/25/71 (on the Ladies & Gentlemen CD) which also has a perfect marriage of rap & music, if you don't mind the story content. Interestingly, the Good Lovin' the next night (4/26/71) is without any rap & takes a different, more pounding approach.

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Poster: ghostofpig Date: Apr 10, 2013 7:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What the fuck you want, Tell?

Shaman, then.

Look: here's the problem, as it were. The dead were always an experience, and the live shows were meant to be seen and felt and heard. 3-D. They never thought that so many people would be collecting these tapes 40-50 years later.

As a traveling band, and one that kept growing night after night, they played similar shows from '76 onward--the suites, new introductions, etc. There was no thought that the audience was the same every night. So if Pig closed with Lovelight, it was a treat because you might not see them again for a year or more. Even in NYC, where I saw thirty shows between '67-72--they might come once or twice a year--though for several nights at a time--and then, the shows didn't always vary that much. The Felt Forum run was meant to introduce new songs, the Academy run duplicates a lot--which is all good and fine.

But you have ten zillion tapes available, and that can be like having ten zillion vanilla ice cream cones. And it sucks if you don't like vanilla.

The point is this: yes, we've all heard too many Pig raps. But back then you wouldn't. Second, you would be THERE--seeing in 3-D--the vibe, the audience, the jams, the way Pig looked and carried on--yes, Althea, a show. And damn if that wasn't what we wanted.

Pig the misogynist--vulgar. Oh come on. Groupie Bob. Jerry dumping girlfriends by proxy. They all treated people like shit. Pig, though, perhaps ironically, least of all. He didn't fight like Kreutzman or the crew.

I think there's a misconception about hippies and hippie bands. That myth is just that--a myth. Most so-called hippies were self-concerned assholes who were out for a good time. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The Dead were not about peace and love and women's lib. Far from it. I remember the Hell's Angel's benefit with Bo Diddly at the Academy in '72. The Manhattan Angels were horrors--they hated hippies. When I saw all the bikes lined up in from of the theater, I thought about leaving. As Hendrix once said, "Peace and love and all that other bullshit."

This groovy love band thing is simply not true. They were a great eclectic morphing outfit who were concerned about the music, and they were concerned about the show. Pig Pen would not have fit in after '72, but before that, he was the boiler room that fired up the train. When he took the mike, the room changed. You just can't capture that on tape.
It's like being at the Super Bowl and watching the Super Bowl. You're getting only about 20% of the show. Mind you, 20% of the Dead is a lot. But how many of you write that your favorite shows were the ones that you attended? Or the tape doesn't do it justice? The whole was more than notes on a guitar. Why do we hope that someday film will emerge?

I guess you had to be there (God, what an experience). And you still might not have liked Pig or whomever--which is fine. But you'd know the whole and not just part. And that whole was mighty fine in these eyes.

Don't get me wrong. Seeing the band after '72 had similar effects--different band, different show. But the scene, the people, the parking lot, all that stuff plus the show--still valid, just different. I didn't care for the crowds or the sound post '76--but sometimes I stream a suggested show (I know whom I trust on these matters!), and I like this and that. I love certain songs--Crazy Finger, Althea, Mission in the Rain come to mind. I still love the fact that we are lucky to HAVE tapes.

But I love that McKernan fellow best of all.

This post was modified by ghostofpig on 2013-04-10 14:24:27